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Old December 7th, 2012, 03:07 AM   #11

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Who were the best generals of the post WW2 era? It seems like something no one ever discusses.

My list:



2) Moshe Dayan: As Sharon said, he'd wake up with 100 ideas every morning, 98 of which were dangerous and 2 which were brilliant. Despite defining the word lunatic, Dayan was an incredibly competent commander, mastering the art of tank warfare like no other ever has. Leading Israeli forces in 1956, 1967, and 1973, time and time again he crushed much larger, and often equally well equipped armies.


4) Ahmad Shah Massoud: Even though Che Guevara is more famous, Massoud is truly the greatest guerrilla fighter since the end of WW2. He held off the Soviets for an entire decade, then fought the Taliban until his assassination, which was part of the preparations for 9/11. Outnumbered and always outgunned, Massoud used the terrain to his advantaged like one has in recent history. He also turned the North Alliance into a formidable fighting force that managed to conquer much of Afghanistan with U.S. aid in 2001. If Massoud hadn't been murdered, who knows if the Taliban would still be here today.

These two for men, Massoud is special for me, because of the short supply of resources he had.

And also on the American side, Norman Schwarzkopf is the man. He designed and leadered what probably is the most brilliant classical warfare operation since the WW2.

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Old December 7th, 2012, 09:46 AM   #12

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Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
Schwarzkopf was a good commander, but I'd think it'd be hard to really say he was among the greatest generals after WW2.

He served competently and served well in Vietnam, but he was only a Lt. Colonel when he finally left. I believe had been promoted to a general officer rank by the time of Grenada, but his service there was only as an adviser to the Admiral in charge of the operation.

The lone major action in which Schwarzkopf had overall command was the First Gulf War following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. And he did well there. I believe the air campaign and the large flanking manuever that was used when the ground war began was Schwarzkopf's idea... or at least the plans that had been put together by him and the men directly under him...

But the First Gulf War is one that I'd think is really hard to analyze generals on. The Iraqi army seemed to bungle just about everything. Their planes couldn't match the Allied air forces, their best troops were withdrawn and saw little real action (and when they did, their old Soviet made tanks were unable to destroy a single Abrams tank) and many of the troops on the Iraqi side that did remain didn't want to be there. There are the famed images of a group of Iraqi soldiers surrendering to the Wisconsin's targeting drone, and I have one old news footage piece of Iraqi troops surrending to the news team covering the war.

In that it's hard to really give Schwarzkopf the entire credit for the victory. And in fact, given that Schwarzkopf also backed going from Kuwait to Baghdad in the aftermath of the victory and was held back by Colin Powell... and the ultimate results of what happened when America DID go to Baghdad in 2003... I'd fear that had Schwarzkopf gotten the go ahead to go to Baghdad in 1991, he would have lost much of the coalition that had gathered to fight Saddam in that war, particularly Britain and France and the Arab states that had only signed on to drive Saddam from Kuwait, and potentially found himself fighting a guerilla war that his army was not prepared to fight.

This is not to say that I think Schwarzkopf was a bad officer or a bad general. I think he was actually a fairly good one, but the conditions of the one war he had command in and then his subsequent retirement from the military would to me keep him off the list of the "greatest" of the post-WW2 world.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 10:32 AM   #13

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Maj. Gen. Mattis and Col. Hammes.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:51 PM   #14

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Surely there must be some from Africa south of Sahara? The post WW2-era is full of wars.

Only one that comes to mind is a Cuban general who beat the South African army in Angola in a major battle in the late 1980s. I can't remember his name. The battle ended South Africa's participation the conflict in Angola. It was very very embarrassing for them to lose - and also contributed to the fall of apartheid.

The Cuban General later got caught smuggling goods into Cuba, which meant the end of his fame in Cuba.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:01 PM   #15

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Schwarzkopf was a good commander, but I'd think it'd be hard to really say he was among the greatest generals after WW2....
If I had to choose to follow into combat, either Petraeus or Schwarzkopf, I'd shoot myself
in the foot to avoid being led by Petraeus and confidently follow Schwarzkopf through any
theater of war. Just like in sports, you have to defeat the team in front of you or be defeated.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:38 PM   #16
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I've always found those pickup trucks of the Tchad-Libya conflict fascinating, will have to read more on the conflict, but true the Tchadian army beat a much more modern and much better financed force that was the Libyan army.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #17

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Old December 7th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #18

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Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
If I had to choose to follow into combat, either Petraeus or Schwarzkopf, I'd shoot myself in the foot to avoid being led by Petraeus and confidently follow Schwarzkopf through any theater of war. Just like in sports, you have to defeat the team in front of you or be defeated.
I wasn't trying to give any real implication that Schwarzkopf was a bad general. I've actually liked him for his name alone, and I've read his autobiography...

Like any good army brat, he's been half a dozen places. His family followed his dad to Iran after WW2, spent some time in Europe where attended a few European military schools, and "cut his teeth" as it were with regard to combat as a junior to field grade officer in Vietnam.

And as a Vietnam veteran, I feel he'd probably have experiences that the commanders that went into Iraq in 2003 DIDN'T have as far as I know. As such, had he remained in the service after Gulf War I and stayed on until 2003, he might have seen the potential strategic mistakes George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld made when putting together the 2003 invasion and figured out that stopping an insurgency would take more then just blowing stuff up... but since he did retire, all of that would be purely speculative.

And Petreus didn't do too bad a job with regard to Iraq once he took over the command role there (I forget the year). I think it was his strategies that ultimately allowed us to leave Iraq and claim victory.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:03 PM   #19

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Are other historumites familiar with Lt. General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller?
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:36 PM   #20

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Are other historumites familiar with Lt. General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller?
If they are real students of history they are. The history of the Korean Conflict is not complete without a knowledge of General Puller.
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